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2024 NFL Free Agency Primer: Tight Ends (Fantasy Football)

2024 NFL Free Agency Primer: Tight Ends (Fantasy Football)

After hitting on QBs, RBs and WRs through our 2024 free agency primer series already, we tie a bow on the positional previews with tight ends in the 2024 NFL Free Agency Primer for Fantasy Football. Just as with the other positions, free agency significantly impacts team dynamics and shapes the landscape for Super Bowl contenders. Free agency also plays a critical role in how teams approach the 2024 NFL Draft.

Below, I’ll highlight the most noteworthy impending free-agent tight ends and provide insights for fantasy players in redraft leagues, best ball leagues, and dynasty leagues.

2024 NFL Tight End Free Agency Primer

Dalton Schultz

Dalton Schultz will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, so his fantasy value will largely depend on where he lands. Backend fantasy TE1 the last two seasons in favorable situations, finishing as the TE10 and TE11 in PPR fantasy scoring. No worse than TE12 over the last four seasons since he became a starting NFL tight end.

Ideally, a place like the Cincinnati Bengals or Miami Dolphins would work in his favor, attached to high-powered offenses. The 28-year-old will only go as far as the offensive environment he plays in.

A return to Houston can’t be ruled out either, given their vast amount of available salary cap space. Schultz was PFF’s 12th-highest-graded tight end in 2023.

Hunter Henry

Get this man reunited with Shane Steichen in Indianapolis from their days spent in San Diego. Third-year tight end Jelani Woods can’t be relied on after missing all of 2023, and the Colts don’t have another difference maker at tight end on the roster. That was so apparent last year when they would split tight-end snaps between three and even four tight ends at times.

Mo Alie-Cox can be cut for a zero dead cap hit with a potential “out” in his 2024 contract.

Hunter Henry provides Anthony Richardson with a big red-zone target, which is by far Henry’s biggest asset to an offense. During his three seasons spent in New England, Henry finished no worse than TE22 (2022), averaging nearly 6 TD receptions per season. The red-zone weapon finished this past season as the TE18 overall, tying for second in red-zone TD receptions (6). Henry was PFF’s 14th-highest-graded tight end in 2023.

The 29-year-old could also be a candidate to replace Schultz in Houston, given how heavily their passing game used the former Dallas Cowboys tight end in the red zone.

Noah Fant

Before the 2023 season, Noah Fant had finished no worse than TE17 any year of his career. Coming off zero TDs with horrible usage in a three-way committee deployed by the Seahawks’ previous regime, the uber-athletic tight end needs a fresh start somewhere at just 26 years old.

Still ranked 7th among all tight ends in yards after the catch per reception in 2023 (5.7).

The Panthers could be a potential landing spot for Fant given the new head coach, Dave Canales, has ties to Seattle’s offensive personnel. Hayden Hurst signed a lucrative deal with the Panthers last offseason but landed on IR after suffering from Post-Traumatic Amnesia. The team can also cut ties with Ian Thomas to save close to $3 million in salary cap space.

The Panthers could be a very sneaky landing spot for a tight end – given that Canales “awarded” Buccaneers tight end Cade Otton an elite role. Played nearly every single snap and ran a route on 80% of the dropbacks (3rd among TEs).

It’s “easy” to tie Fant to the Bears under new OC Shane Waldron (formerly of Seattle), but this doesn’t make sense to me, given how poorly Fant’s numbers suffered after arriving with the Seahawks. He was much more productive in Denver during the start of his career.

Gerald Everett

If any tight end were to reunite with Shane Waldron, it could be Everett after their time spent together in Los Angeles (Rams) and Seattle.

Last season, the tight end usage never got to a point with the Chargers where Gerald Everett could fully be unleashed, aside from occasional spiked weeks of production when other guys missed time. Everett was by far Easton Stick‘s No. 1 target after Justin Herbert went down with an injury. But he never had one game with 50 or more receiving yards. Logged a 55% snap rate on the year (33rd). Everett will be 30 in 2024 after posting career lows in yards and yards per route run as the TE24 overall and TE21 in points per game (5.7). He was the TE15 overall and TE14 in points per game in 2022 (7.4).

Everett could also reunite with the LA Rams and Sean McVay with Tyler Higbee coming off a very late torn ACL injury. The Rams tight end role is very advantageous, given that Higbee finished the 2023 season with the 8th-highest routes run rate at 73%.

Mike Gesicki

It’s been back-to-back seasons where Mike Gesicki has just not “fit” the offensive system that he has been put in. He’s a tight end who doesn’t block and needs a team that will embrace that part of his game.

If put in a position as a hybrid slot receiver, the 28-year-old can be productive. He has shown that while playing in the NFL.

In 2021, Gesicki finished sixth in receptions, ninth in receiving yards, fourth in route participation (78%), and fifth in target share (17%) over 18 weeks. These impressive numbers translated to a TE9 finish (TE8 Weeks 1-17) in PPR (TE11 in half-PPR).

The fact that he already has multiple TE1 finishes on his resume (TE7 in 2020, TE11 in 2019) bolsters the case for Gesicki to be capable of bouncing back, if he can land on the right team.

A team to monitor for a tight end landing is the Tennessee Titans. Nick Holz is coming in as the OC after spending last season as the passing game coordinator for the Jaguars. The same offense that fueled Evan Engram to 114 catches for 963 yards on 140-plus targets as a featured slot receiver. The “role” he had in the Jaguars offense was beyond elite, ranking first in the NFL in route participation (83%).

Austin Hooper

Harrison Bryant and/or Austin Hooper, you ARE future New England Patriots. Both have played under new OC Alex Van Pelt, who loves to utilize two tight ends sets in his offense.

Given the addition of Van Pelt, Pharoah Brown will likely re-sign with the Patriots after a pretty impressive year on a per-target basis. No.1 in yards per target among TEs in 2023. He was a big play waiting to happen in a completely anemic Patriots offense last season.

Hooper and Bryant are carbon-copy versions of each other, with Hooper coming in with a more decorated pedigree. Don’t expect any to make much noise in fantasy unless he gets a boatload of volume. His 81% catch rate ranked top-5 last season.

Hooper’s top-6 fantasy finishes in Atlanta from 2018-2019 seem like a distant memory. It’s also possible that Hooper could land in Washington, given his connection with former Falcons HC, Dan Quinn. The team seems likely to move on from Logan Thomas, given his salary cap hit at over $8 million compared to a dead cap hit of under $2 million in 2024 in the final year of his contract.

Tanner Hudson

Keep tabs on Tanner Hudson, who the Bengals leaned on more down the stretch. From Week 9 onward, Hudson posted an elite 26% target rate per route run. If they keep Hudson in-house on a cheap deal instead of “paying up” for another tight end, Hudson could be a sneaky tight-end sleeper for fantasy football in 2024. Hudson was PFF’s 13th-highest-graded tight end in 2023, ranking 9th in yards per route run.

Johnny Mundt

If Mundt re-signs in Minnesota, he could inherit the T.J. Hockenson role while Hockenson rehabs from a torn ACL injury. Was productive in that starting tight end role in the last two weeks of the season, playing in 76% of the snaps while posting stat lines of 4-39-1 and 5-58-0 on 6.5 targets per game.

Early 2024 Fantasy Football Draft Prep

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